Pirates rout Padres 11-1 to avoid sweep

Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Harrison beats San Diego Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt to home plate while scoring from third on a wild pitch during the fourth inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 21, 2016, in San Diego. (AP)


SAN DIEGO (AP) — After losing six of eight games, the Pittsburgh Pirates needed a game like they got from Gerrit Cole on Thursday night.

Cole pitched six impressive innings for his first win this season and the Pirates beat the San Diego Padres 11-1 to avoid a three-game sweep.

“He was in complete command from his first pitch till his last pitch tonight,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Bit shot in the arm for us.”

Cole (1-2), who grew up in Newport Beach and pitched at UCLA, held San Diego to four singles while striking out seven and walking none. Only two Padres baserunners reached scoring position against Cole.

“I thought we played excellent defense,” Cole said. “We got some runs on the board early, which allowed me to try to find my stuff and kind of hone in. I thought (catcher Francisco) Cervelli did a great job of taking what I had tonight and maximizing everything that we had.

“To come in and try to give a quality effort and put us in a position to win the game was the main focus. You’re always trying to go as deep as you can, I thought it was a really clean ballgame and it was great to get out of here with a ‘W.'”

After scoring three runs against James Shields (0-3) through four innings, the Pirates piled on with eight runs against two relievers in the seventh. John Jaso and Starling Marte had RBI doubles in the big inning while David Freese and Francisco Cervelli had two-run singles.

Leonel Campos, called up earlier in the day from Triple-A El Paso, allowed seven runs, five earned, while getting only one out in the big inning. He walked one, hit a batter and had a batter reach on a strikeout-passed ball.

“He’s human,” catcher Christian Bethancourt said of Campos. “We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Sometimes we just can’t find it. It wasn’t his night tonight. His other times on the mound will be a lot better.”

Josh Harrison had RBI singles in the second and fourth innings, both against Shields and scored twice.

“He’s a backyard ballplayer,” Hurdle said. “Between him and Cole, they carried the load for us tonight.”

Shields allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, struck out five and walked two.

Shields and Bethancourt struggled to get on the same page, particularly in the two-run fourth, when Shields threw two wild pitches.

“He’s all right. He puts in a good effort back there,” Shields said. “That’s all you can ask for. We definitely need to get together and work. I’m a tough pitcher to call games and catch. I throw almost all of my pitches on both sides of the plate. It’s tough, but he did a good job.”

Manager Andy Green said Shields “is as difficult as anybody in the game to call a game for. He’s just got so many different weapons and he’s so cerebral and has so many ways he wants to go about attacking hitters, that he’s not necessarily the easiest guy to follow his game plan on. They had a good rhythm in the sense that there were two out-of-the zone singles from Harrison that plated basically the only two runs that scored other than the ball that got by Christian. So talking about way off, I don’t know if that was the case.”